When I was a boy, we had an old tube radio. It was a huge wooden box and it took what seemed like forever to warm up. I would sit next to it, bent over, following the baseball with intense focus. Because we were in the country, reception was spotty at best; I'd miss whole plays and had a hard time keeping track of what was going on. But in my memory even the static, not to mention the soft tones of my team's announcers, the occasional crack of the bat, and the jarring loud beer commercials, was a joy to take in.
This must be a trick of time. I suspect that if my memory were more accurate what I'd really recall is the intense frustration that we didn't have a better radio. Or a TV! It's not that we were poor, depression-era folks living in the country, even though that was definitely a depression-era radio. No, I was raised in Greenwich Village in the 1970s, and spending august in the country was, I suppose, for my parents, a way of getting away from TV. And anyway, they were not baseball folks. They were artists. Baseball had about as much connection to them, and to our New York City life, as 4H clubs and the Republican party.
Which is maybe why I loved it so, and why I loved and still love ? with an energetic passion ? the New York Mets. Back then I was too young to travel out to Flushing to see them play; the Mets lived, for me, and for my brother, over the rainbow, in a dreamy world of static and late-night radio magic.
These days, I watch the Mets on HDTV. And I've got the internet package, so I can watch every game, anywhere. In the last years of my marriage, my wife used to refer to herself as a baseball widow, I had always thought half-jokingly. I marvel that my attachment to this team, and this sport, has survived all the changes. The first time I got to see my beloved Tom Seaver pitch at Shea Stadium, he was pitching for the opposing team! And recent years have seen painful baseball collapses and humiliating financial controversies too ugly to describe.
But it's baseball time, again, and it makes me so happy!